10 Ways to Win Over Your CEO

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 08-06-2010

10 Ways to Win Over Your CEO

As a CIO, your ultimate goal is to increase profits and make your CEO happy by making the right technology choices and driving IT innovation. Doing so during a recession can be difficult, especially when there aren't enough investment dollars to go around. This doesn't mean that you can't win over your CEO through other means. In fact, there are several strategies you can follow to help improve your operation and make your CEO just a little happier with you in the process.

However, Diamond Management & Technology Consultants' third annual Digital IQ survey uncovers some disturbing news that indicates that the role of the CIO is weakening in some enterprises. Diamond surveyed 724 business and technology leaders and found these three key findings:

  • Innovation efforts of three out of four CIOs were focused not on new products or services, but on internal business process or IT improvements 
  • In more than half the companies surveyed, business leaders other than the CIO control at least 30% of the money spent on IT.
  • Firms with the strongest financial performance had strong alignment among the business and IT leadership, as well as strong mobilization and execution capabilities.

Innovative thinking and leadership abilities are the two top attributes wanted in a CIO from the 362 business executives surveyed by Diamond. Both of these attributes rank much higher for business executives than "deep experience in running IT operations." In other words, the business wants the IT executive to drive growth as well as lead the function. Only slightly more than one in two (55%) of the entire sample views their IT executive as both a business leader and an IT leader. Even worse, the majority of executives surveyed (60%) do not know how much they spend on technology.

According to Diamond's report, this implies a shortcoming of the IT executive. If the business is asking for broad leadership and growth, the IT executive needs to be willing to step up to that challenge, according to the Diamond Digital IQ survey. The Digital IQ results do, however, show that some CIOs appear to be driving significant business value at their firms. In 77% of the better-performing organizations polled by Diamond, the CEO was a champion of IT's business value, and the level of integration of business and technology was high. In addition, 68 percent of the top-performing firms have a single roadmap for corporate strategy. In addition, initiative-level roadmaps were in place at four out of five of the top-performing firms. ]

To help CIOs navigate these complex corporate seas, we've highlighted 10 can't-miss strategies for winning over your CEO. Some of these might be easy to achieve, while others might take some time and effort on the part of both you and your staff. All of them are worth considering. With the right strategies and the correct vision, you'll be sure to increase your value to your company and, especially, to your CEO.

Read on to learn what you can put into action today.

Five Tech Skills To Win CEO Mindshare

Make Technology Important to the CEO

CIOs are fully aware that the corporate environment is becoming more technologically focused than ever before. But it's incumbent upon you to prove it to your CEO. The company that has the best technology and the most innovation will win out in any market. If you can make that clear to your CEO and show why they need to care more about technology, you'll go a long way in helping your cause.

Mobile Productivity Is Key

The beauty of today's technologically advanced marketplace is the ability to make employees productive no matter where they are. Years ago, employees could only do their work in the office. But thanks to notebooks, smartphones, and cloud applications, they can now work from wherever they are. By expanding an employee's ability to work, you're potentially increasing your profitability. What CEO doesn't like that?

Cloud Reigns Supreme

Making your employees productive while they're away from the office is a great way to make your CEO happy, but that's extremely difficult without the help of cloud applications. Realizing that, it's best if you focus much of your time on bringing cloud apps to the operation. Not only do they represent the future of enterprise productivity, they typically deliver a long-term positive return on the initial investment of deployment. Your CEO will be happy to hear that.

Harness the Power of Automation

You might currently have employees performing tasks that can be accomplished by Web-based systems which automate the process. If so, it's time to bring automation into the workplace and free employees up to work on higher-level profit-making tasks. The goal of any well-run organization is to maximize profit potential on almost every employee at the firm. Automation can help achieve that by taking costly tasks from employees that could be better utilized elsewhere.

Improve Collaborative Efforts

Most CIOs agree that collaboration is becoming a bigger issue than ever in today's team-based workplace. Teams need to be able to communicate effectively and have all the tools at their disposal to get the job done. That can only be possible with the help of collaborative tools that you deploy. CEOs might focus much of their time on operations and profits, but they want to know that their employees are using the right tools to be successful. Collaboration tools are the best ways to achieve that.

Five Business Skills To Win CEO Mindshare

Combine Business Savvy With IT Know-How

According to the Digital IQ study from the Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, successful companies have "strong alignment among the business and IT leadership." In other words, CIOs need to focus on the cross-section of technology and business. If a particular service costs the company too much, or if a strategy is not playing into the company's financial favor, it is time to ditch it.

Focus On Generational Differences

Most CIOs are finding that young employees have a strong desire to incorporate technology into their jobs, and these workers have no problem working with it to make their tasks a bit easier to accomplish. As a CIO, it's your job to put those solutions in the hands of those younger employees. After all, if they're more productive because of it, your operation will be more productive, as well.

Add Value, Don't Become A Commodity

As the Diamond IQ study finds, CEOs expect the CIO to add value by shaping "the organization's demands and plans." If you don't do that, you run the risk of becoming a cost center that can be easily outsourced to other areas around the world where quality and cheap labor are available.

Control Costs

It might sound obvious, but CEOs are deeply concerned with minimizing costs and maximizing profits. Realizing that, try to keep costs down. There might be several legacy products you have now that are barely used. You might also have costly equipment that, over time, would cost more than replacing it. Evaluate your costs and figure out where you can save some cash. Your CEO will be happy you did.

Drive Business Growth

As the Diamond IQ study finds, CEOs expect CIOs to drive new business through the use of technology. The days of simply managing the technology in a company are over. Today, you're expected to find the right balance between technology spending and profits. The CIO that can do that will be successful. Those who prefer to only manage technology will have a short-lived career at their company. It's as simple as that.

About the Diamond Digital IQ Study

Diamond Management & Technology Consultants' third annual Digital IQ study reflects responses from 724 senior business and IT executives. The companies represented are of significant size, most with annual revenues greater than $1 billion. Survey questions covered an array of issues, ranging from attitudes about information technology's contribution to corporate competitiveness and business/IT alignment to IT management practices. Collectively, these issues help determine a company's Digital IQ.